Top 10 Cheapest New Cars to Buy


The days of the $10,000 new car are long gone. However, when you take into account the added safety and convenience features of today’s cars, they might just be better value than ever before.

Case in point: nearly every entry on this list of the cheapest new cars for sale includes things like air conditioning, stability control, ABS, back-up cameras and touchscreen infotainment systems. Some of these features are now mandated, sure, but they make new cars safer and easier to live with for most buyers. The peace of mind that a warranty provides doesn’t hurt either.

Even the most expensive model on this list comes in barely over $20,000, including destination. Looking for a new car deal that won’t break the bank? Read on for our list of the 10 cheapest new cars to buy in the USA.

10. 2021 Nissan Sentra S: $20,410

Engine: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, 149 hp / 146 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: 29/39/33 mpg

Base Price: $20,410

With manufacturers continuing to ditch small cars, Nissan’s compact Sentra enters this list for 2021. Following a sleek redesign in 2020, the Sentra has rediscovered its driving dynamics, offering the smooth, comfortable highway ride you’d expect of a larger car.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Nissan Sentra Review: Big Car Feel, Small Car Price

Nissan keeps the lineup simple for the Sentra: every model uses the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder, producing 149 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque. Sure, that’s more power than anything else on this list, but what’s more important to value-oriented buyers is the standard-fit Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of driver assists. This includes automated emergency braking (with pedestrian detection), blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assist, and rear automatic braking.

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09. 2021 Hyundai Venue SE: $19,935

Engine: 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder, 122 hp / 113 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: 27/35/30 mpg (MT), 30/34/32 mpg (CVT)

Base Price: $19,935

The newest member of this list, the Hyundai Venue is technically a crossover but we don’t buy that. Don’t let the funky styling fool you: with only front-drive available, this is more of an urban adventurer than a rocks-and-mud one. That being said, the Venue is an entertaining little car, with all the baked-in value Hyundai is known for.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Hyundai Venue Review

There’s only one engine option available, so even the base SE gets the 1.6-liter, 121-horsepower four-cylinder. Previously it came with a six-speed manual, but the previously-optional CVT is now standard on the SE (which explains the $1,500 price jump over 2020). An 8.0-inch touchscreen is also standard, with both popular phone pairing options. The Venue majors on safety, including emergency front braking, lane keep assist, automatic headlights and driver attention warning on all trims. Of course it also comes with Hyundai’s 10-year, 100,000 mile limited powertrain warranty.

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08. 2021 Veloster 2.0: $19,905

Engine: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, 147 hp / 132 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: 25/33/28 mpg (MT), 27/34/30 (AT)

Base Price: $19,905

The Veloster undercuts the Venue by a whole $30, and cuts a dramatically different profile to boot. The sporty hatchback’s unusual three-door layout—one on the driver’s side, two on the passenger’s—makes it more practical than you might think.

SEE ALSO: 2019 Hyundai Veloster N: I’m Not a Regular Dad, I’m a Cool Dad

For a little under $20,000, the Veloster offers a six-speed manual hooked up to a 2.0-liter inline-four (one you’ll find on the next few entries on this list). A six-speed automatic is a grand more. Standard features include automated emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and a driver attention warning. A 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality is standard, plus dynamic guidelines for the backup camera. Jumping into the fun-loving R-Spec turbocharged model is a $4,550 ask. We’re not sure how long the Veloster has left, either: Canada already shrunk its lineup down to jus the Veloster N hot hatch.

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07. 2021 Kia Forte FE: $18,885

Engine: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, 147 hp / 132 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: 27/37/31 mpg (MT), 31/41/35 mpg (CVT)

Base Price: $18,885

The Kia Forte kicks off a three-car string for the Korean brand on this list. This compact sedan—the Forte5 hatchback is a Canada-only affair—rings up for only slightly more than its upright Soul sibling.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Kia Forte GT Review

Like that rolling box, the Forte FE uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, hooked up to a six-speed manual transmission. A CVT is available for an extra $900. An 8.0-inch touchscreen sits in the center of the dash, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus Bluetooth connectivity. Keyless entry and automatic emergency braking are standard too, alongside lane departure warning and lane keep assist. Higher trims include blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and LED headlights.

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06. 2021 Kia Soul LX: $18,765

Engine: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, 147 hp / 132 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: 25/31/27 mpg (MT), 28/33/30 mpg (CVT)

Base Price: $18,765

Kia’s boxy Soul compact remains a fun, affordable choice for compact car buyers. “Compact” is a bit of a misnomer really, with the Soul’s upright shape lending it plenty of interior space. Starting its third generation for the 2020 model year, the Soul includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, and remote keyless entry as standard.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Kia Soul Review

On the safety front, the LX includes rear child-safety door locks, four-corner disc brakes, hill-start assist, rear occupant alert, and tire pressure monitoring. Driving aids such as emergency braking and lane keep assist are available on the next trim up, the $21,865 Kia Soul S. You’ll also find a manual transmission in the LX—the CVT is a $1,500 option.

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05. 2021 Kia Rio Sedan LX: $17,045

Engine: 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder, 120 hp / 112 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: 33/41/36 mpg

Base Price: $17,045

Like a few other entries on this list, the Kia Rio comes in both sedan and hatchback form. And just like the Sonic, the sedan is the cheaper option, undercutting the Rio 5-Door S by just shy of a grand. Both models come with a 1.6-liter engine, producing an acceptable 120 hp and 112 lb-ft of torque.

SEE ALSO: 2018 Kia Rio Review

For 2021, the Rio gains an 8.0-inch touchscreen, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Bluetooth. The rear-view camera includes dynamic guidelines—not a guarantee at this price point—but that’s about it for electronic safety assists. The 5-Door S does add forward collision avoidance, however. Opting for the hatch lops an entire foot off the length of the Rio, and adds a 60/40 folding rear seat to make the most of that utilitarian shape.

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04. 2021 Hyundai Accent Sedan SE: $16,029

Engine: 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder, 120 hp / 113 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: 29/39/33 mpg (MT), 33/41/36 mpg (CVT)

Base Price: $16,029

Hyundai gets a second entry on the list with its smallest sedan, the Accent. As it shares its platform with the Venue, the Accent has a lot of the same features, including a standard 1.6-liter, 120-horsepower engine and six-speed manual transmission. A CVT is optional, requiring an extra $1,055 outlay.

SEE ALSO: 2018 Hyundai Accent Review and First Drive

The Accent’s big advantage over its crossover-styled sibling is at the pumps. With the six-speed manual it’s capable of 39 mpg on the highway and 33 mpg combined. The CVT does better still, with scores of 41 and 36, respectively. The best the Venue manages from the EPA is 35 mpg highway (manual) and 32 mpg combined (CVT). However, the Accent sacrifices active safety assists to get its low price, and also uses a 5.0-inch touchscreen without any major mobile pairing abilities.

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03. 2021 Nissan Versa Sedan S: $15,930

Engine: 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder, 122 hp / 114 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: 27/35/30 mpg (MT), 32/40/35 mpg (CVT)

Base Price: $15,930

Nissan is banking on the SUV craze to die down, as young adults who grew up in their back seats avoid them the same way their parents eschewed minivans. That’s why it invested in redesigning both the Sentra and Versa for 2020. Both pack in the sort of tech and convenience features found on bigger models only a decade ago. This includes emergency braking with pedestrian sensing, lane departure warning, auto high beams, hill start assist, powered side mirrors, and voice recognition.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Nissan Versa Review

The base Versa S comes with a five-speed manual transmission hooked up to a 1.6-liter engine. This combo is capable of a decent 35 mpg combined, though that figure jumps to 40 mpg when picking the $17,600 CVT model. All models come with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, though you’ll need to upgrade to the $18,740 SV to gain Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality instead of just Bluetooth.

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02. 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage ES: $15,290

Engine: 1.2-liter inline three-cylinder, 78 hp / 74 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: 33/41/36 mpg (MT), 36/43/39 mpg (CVT)

Base Price: $15,290

A 2021 facelift introduced more standard safety features for Mitsubishi’s diminutive Mirage. Forward collision avoidance is now included on all trims, with the ES a lane departure warning and auto high-beams.

SEE ALSO: 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage GT Review

Measuring just 149.2 inches nose to stern, the Mirage is one of the smallest new cars on the market. It’s also possibly the slowest, with a 1.2-liter engine and just 78 horsepower. But you’re not buying an economy car for speed, you’re buying it for, well, economy. The Mirage posts a 41 mpg highway figure, or 43 mpg with the optional CVT. The only cars that better its ratings are hybrids. Standard features are generous considering the sticker price, with automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch central display, keyless entry, and Bluetooth. If you prefer the longer (169.5-inch) sedan body to the hatch, it’s an extra $1,000.

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01. 2021 Chevrolet Spark LS: $14,395

Engine: 1.4-liter inline four-cylinder, 98 hp / 94 lb-ft

Fuel Economy: 29/38/33 mpg (MT), 30/38/33 mpg (AT)

Base Price: $14,395

The Chevrolet Spark remains the cheapest new car in America, with an MSRP of $14,395 including destination (but not whatever discounts your local dealer might be offering). That bargain-basement price gets you a tiny runabout—the Spark is six inches shorter than the Mirage—with a 1.4-liter, 98-horsepower engine and five-speed manual transmission.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Chevrolet Spark Review

Chevrolet quotes nearly the same fuel economy numbers for both the manual and automatic transmissions: 38 mpg highway and 33 combined. The auto scores 30 mpg in the city, with the stick giving away just 1 mpg.

Thanks to a recent refresh the Spark enjoys standard features such as a 7.0-inch infotainment screen (with Android and Apple pairing), two USB ports, built-in WiFi hotspot, integrated daytime running lamps, tire pressure monitoring, and 15-inch wheels. Passenger space is about what you’d expect of a 143-inch long car; that is to say it’s decent, though trunk space is small.

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